As an employer, you’re always looking for ways to build a strong, productive, and resilient workforce. Employee wellness programs are one way to achieve this goal—they help create a culture of health and well-being. While healthy behaviors are ultimately up to individual employees, an effective wellness program can support them in the journey.

What’s an employee wellness program?

An employee wellness program is a business initiative that promotes healthy habits and helps workers improve their physical and mental health. Many wellness programs offer both educational resources and tangible incentives to encourage employees to participate.

Workplace wellness programs vary based on company size, resources, and employee needs. Common features include:

  • Informational materials and workshops
  • Health clinic and risk-assessment screenings
  • Biometric screenings
  • Stress-reduction educations
  • Exercise competitions
  • Meal stipends
  • Free or discounted gym memberships
  • Weight-loss and nutrition coaching

The cost of a corporate wellness program typically ranges from $150 to $1,200 per employee, per year. Your actual price will depend on the resources, perks, and incentives you offer. For example, basic biometric screenings may cost about $75 per person.

How does improved employee health benefit your business?

Done well, employee wellness programs can help combat common health and safety issues many employees face: stress, burnout, physical illness, and mental health struggles. Even a small improvement in these areas can have a positive impact on your bottom line. As you weigh program costs against the potential return on investment, make sure to factor in the potential business benefits.

Reduced stress

Stress is one of the biggest issues for modern professionals. Gallup found that 44% of employees experience stress during a significant portion of the day; 40% said they worry “a lot.” Workers who have high stress levels are at higher risk for illness, weight gain, problems sleeping, anxiety, and depression.

When your employee wellness program helps workers reduce and manage stress, it can help prevent these conditions and control your health care costs. You might even see a drop in absenteeism—according to the American Institute of Stress, 1 million workers in the United States call out from work due to stress every day.

Improved productivity and performance

Healthier employees tend to have higher productivity and performance levels, according to the CDC. They’re also less likely to get sick and miss work, which means your company can spend less time and money on overtime and shift coverage.

A workplace wellness program that includes a mental health component may expand the benefits for your bottom line. The World Health Organization found that depression and anxiety alone cost employers $1 trillion in lost productivity every year. Better mental health reduces workers’ risk of illness, combats stress, and leads to higher energy levels, all of which can help increase employee productivity.

Easier retention and recruitment

An effective employee wellness program helps workers flourish in all aspects of their lives. When the team is doing well, employee engagement rises and turnover drops—in fact, a thriving workforce is 32% less likely to be searching for work elsewhere.

A well-designed, holistic wellness program signals that you value team members’ overall health and wellness, which matters when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. When employees feel that you care about their well-being, they’re five times more likely to recommend the company to others and 69% less likely to look for a new job.

Lower health care costs

If your company is paying for employee health insurance, a wellness program can help you save money. Healthy employees have fewer risk factors and make fewer health insurance claims, which means they’re more affordable to insure. This typically results in lower health insurance premiums for your company and individual workers.

Tips for building a successful employee wellness plan

Not all wellness programs are created equal; some are more effective than others. As you’re implementing a plan, there are a few things your HR leaders can do to boost participation and maximize ROI:

  • Request employee input. Ask employees about their top health and well-being goals and tailor the program to their responses. If a majority of the team is interested in fitness, for example, you could include group exercise classes, health coaching or a competition with prizes for individual fitness milestones.
  • Address both mental and physical health. In addition to physical activity and nutrition-based education, offer resources for stress reduction and burnout prevention. You might also include counseling sessions, mental health assessments, or an employee assistance program.
  • Offer a range of incentives. To encourage more people to participate in a wellness program, make sure it has something for everyone. A free gym memberships is great, but it may only appeal to employees who already work out. Options that appeal to multiple groups include extra PTO and on-site events during the workday.
  • Promote the program. Before an employee wellness program can be successful, your workers must know it exists. Gartner research found that although 96% of companies offer wellness benefits, only 42% of employees are aware of them. Make sure your company leaders, managers, and human resources employees are discussing and promoting the wellness program regularly.

What to include in a wellness program

Not sure what to include in your workplace wellness program? Consider the factors that affect wellness in the workplace, including stress, nutrition, and overall employee health. Then, choose program elements that address these topics.

  1. Educational resources. Aim for a mix of online and in-person workshops to help employees learn more about health and wellness. Team members can explore the materials at their own pace and use live sessions to ask questions and find social support.
  2. Screenings. Help employees establish a baseline understanding of their physical and mental health by bringing in doctors to conduct screenings. Start with high-level risk assessments and biometric screenings and progress to more specialized clinics related to issues such as heart health, diabetes, and weight loss.
  3. Interactive events. Office step competitions, company sports leagues, and group workshops make your wellness program more fun and engaging. When other employees see the activities in progress, they’re more likely to join.
  4. Special perks. Encourage people to get involved with special perks such as discounted bike purchases, access to a luxury gym, coaching, or personal training.
  5. Meal stipends. Address the nutritional aspects of employee well-being by providing freshly prepared meals for your team-it’s a great way to keep them fueled so they have the energy to be productive. You might set up a catered buffet lunch one per week, offer delivery credits to remote employees, or stock the break room with nourishing snacks. Take the program a step further by sharing healthy recipes and bringing in a nutritionist to help workers choose healthy restaurant meals.

Grubhub: a cost-effective meal option

Convenience and cost-effectiveness are key factors to a successful employee wellness program. If you’re planning to include employer-provided meals as part of your plan, partnering with Grubhub Corporate Accounts can streamline your food ordering and help you stay on budget with customization and spend control tools.

It all starts with built-in controls—set a meal budget and an ordering window and employees can choose any meal that fits into their health goals. With the most ways to order, it’s a breeze to plan catering, group orders, or individual meals.

To see how Grubhub Corporate Accounts can support your employee wellness program, get started today.